The Goodwills Trio at Folk Redlands March 19

The Goodwills Trio at The Bug (photo Helen Corr)

Sunday March 19, 2023

The Goodwills – guest artists at Folk Redlands

Victoria Point Bowls Club, 3 Poinciana Avenue, 1pm.

The Goodwills Trio (Bob & Laurel Wilson and Helen Rowe) have been performing at clubs and festivals for the past six years. Bob & Laurel have been performing together since the late 1970s, so have a large repertoire including songs Bob has written. Bob’s songs have been featured on the ABC radio show, Australia all Over. Three songs, Big Country Town, Courting the Net and If It Doesn’t Rain Soon, Mate, have been included on Ian McNamara’s compilation albums.

In 2022 Bob won the Alistair Hulett Songs for Social Justice award with his song When Whitlam Took his Turn at the Wheel. Subsequently, The Goodwills released an eight-track EP containing five new songs and live versions of three older songs. They have released six CDs since 1998. although two of the older albums are out of print.

Bob and Laurel live in Warwick now, so the logistics for rehearsing with Helen means she gets to spend time in the country. Helen adds vocal harmonies, whistle and fiddle and occasionally sings her own songs.

The usual format for Folk Redlands is blackboard artists first, who each perform two or three songs, a break and then the guest act from 3pm to 4pm. Bar and snacks are available.


Goodwills website update and August gigs

The Goodwills

Winter 2022 Newsletter

Dear Friends of the Goodwills

Here’s big thanks to people who ordered songs or albums from Bandcamp, our preferred download service and to those who paid extra. Despite writing an internet satire song in 1999, we have been slow to adapt to changing tastes in music delivery. The insight came when my nephew texted me a few years back to say: “Can’t find you on Spotify, Uncle’.

Tedious though it may have been, I have updated our website to more accurately reflect the digital age of music. We dispensed with our ecommerce shop and instead now present you with two alternatives.

There is a page called Goodwills Online that shows at a glance how many of our albums/songs are available for download or streaming. There are links to Bandcamp (our preferred music download service) and Spotify, which seems to be a necessary part of the whole.

For the old-school (people who still have CD players in their cars) Goodwills CD Shop will show you what’s available, prices and instructions on how to order physical CDs. As we still have a stock of Australia Post CD boxes and now get pensioner stamps, we can send an album to you for $2 postage. We should charge $3 but we still have stock under the bed and would prefer one day to be able to vacuum under there!

Goodwills Videos

We’ve been a bit better at producing YouTube videos although we have not done one for a while. Our most popular videos, Get the Kids off Nauru and Rangitiki have almost 2000 views between them.

A video cover of Bob’s song Courting the Net by Brisbane folkie Mary Brettell has had 1,687 views. . See if you can knock her over the 2000 line.

In 2020 we produced a series of lockdown videos where we would sit among the plants and garden beds and sing one of my songs or a cover. We should probably do an ‘after-Covid’ series, should that day ever come. Feral Cat Blues

Here is the link to our YouTube channel

Or you can view selected videos on the video page of our website. The best of them are well-produced, the rest as like us – a bit daggy.

Upcoming Goodwills gigs:

July 10: Warwick U3A Rooms 2pm. A fundraiser for refugees – donation

August 3: Red Hill Folk, Red Hill Bowls Club, Fulcher Road $5.

August 4: Muzika, 7.30pm – assorted acts. Maleny RSL $10

Goodwills Trio at the Bug May 24

Laurel and Bob Wilson with Helen Rowe

We’re making a rare trip down from the mountains to perform at the Brisbane Unplugged Gigs weekly event at New Farm Bowls Club on May 24. We’ll be performing as a trio with Helen Rowe on fiddle and vocal harmonies. We are the first of the booked acts, performing at 8.15pm,  followed by The Argonauts.

This popular weekly event always kicks off at 7.30pm with musicians who put their names on the blackboard, so you just never know who will be there.

The Alistair Hulett award, making cameo outdoor appearances as Ross Clark travels back to Brisbane!

We’ll take a run through some of our better-known material and a few songs written in the two years since we moved to Warwick. As you may have heard, Bob’s song ‘When Whitlam Took His Turn at the Wheel’ is this year’s winner of the Alistair Hulett Songs for Social Justice award.

This means you will get to hear it live and, depending on the election result, sing along with the chorus (or not). Bob notes with some satisfaction that his most recent royalty cheque indicates that our original songs are still being played on the radio, somewhere.

New Farm Bowls Club is at 969 Brunswick Street opposite New Farm Park. Admission is $10, the venue is licensed and there is a raffle.



Bob’s Whitlam song wins Alistair Hulett award

Bob Wilson’s song, When Whitlam took his turn at the wheel, is the 2022 recipient of the Alistair Hulett Songs for Social Justice Award.

The award was presented at the closing concert at the National Folk Festival in Canberra on Easter Monday. Bob was unable to attend so deputised Ross Clark to accept the award on his behalf. The concert was live streamed to a large audience to raise money for the UNHCR in Ukraine.

We affectionately refer to the song as “Whitlam”, a summary of the many social policies and new laws enacted by Gough Whitlam in the first months of his election on December 2, 1972.

Whitlam introduced free healthcare and free tertiary education, abolished conscription and took the last of our troops out of Vietnam. Whitlam introduced a new Family Law act; no fault divorce and an associated single parent’s pension which made it possible for people to leave bad marriages. He abolished capital punishment, started drafting land rights for indigenous Australians and, as the song says, was the first PM to lavish money on the arts.

Bob wrote the song late last year after realising there is a whole generation in Australia who probably take these social initiatives for granted.

Listen to the song here:

The Alistair Hulett award is now in its 12th year. It was started in 2011 after the Scots-born Australian songwriter died in 2010. A fund was established to perpetuate an annual event where songwriters could submit works which fit the theme of social justice. Previous recipients include two other Queenslanders – Paddy McHugh (2015) and Karen Law (2020 in a dead-heat with Newcastle songwriter John Sutton).

We were hiking in Tasmania when we got the news (about to walk around Dove Lake)

The song was recorded at Restless Music studios in Stanthorpe by Roger Ilott. Musicians on the track include Roger (banjo and mandolin) his brother Tony (bass), Laurel Wilson (vocals), Bob Wilson (guitar and vocals) and Mal Webb (brass).

As per the terms of the ‘grant’ which comes with the award, Bob is planning a limited release CD by The Goodwills which will contain “Whitlam” and some of our more recent songs. The award brief is to ‘disseminate the song” so you may well see sponsored Facebook posts and other promotions in the following months.

If you happen to be at Brisbane’s acoustic music venue, The Bug, on May 24 (New Farm Bowls Club), we’ll sing the song for you.



Armageddon out of here

The Almost Armageddon Waltz by Bob Wilson

Here’s an anti-war anthem I wrote in 1979-1980 when Russia invaded
Afghanistan. Then as now, people were terrified it would lead to nuclear war. Instead it led to a futile, nine-year battle between the State of Afghanistan and Russia against the guerrilla group Mujahideen.

The song won an award and I was invited to Longford in Tasmania to
sing it at a folk festival. The lyrics and sheet music were published in a
long-defunct magazine called Stringybark and Greenhide. Anyway, this
is the only known recording of the song, from the live album, Little Deeds (1998), which is no longer in circulation.
As I said in the intro, this song is so old it refers to the Holden
Kingswood as the family car. I always meant to update it, add a contemporary verse or two but it never quite gelled.

I’m chuffed that Eric Bogle has seen fit to keep the theme going in 2022 with his song, The Armageddon Waltz, from the new album, The Source of Light.
It’s a lament for all the things we have lost and are yet to lose to climate change. And as is the Bogle way of never obscuring the message, the refrain is “it’s the Armageddon Waltz, folks, and were all going to die.”
Good one, Eric.

The Last Waterhole on TradandNow

The question Bob gets asked most about this song is – “Is there a book called The Theory of Control”? The title track from our most recent studio album was included on the compilation CD, Pick of the Crop 8, produced by the national folk music publication, TradandNow.

Featuring the exquisite fiddle playing of Silas Palmer.

Goodwills launch new song about Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam in China, image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia, CC.

We chose November 11 (Remembrance Day), to launch a new song about the achievements (and setbacks) of Gough Whitlam, our most controversial politician. The 11th marks the 46th anniversary of The Dismissal, when the Queen’s representative, John Kerr, sacked Whitlam and installed a caretaker government under Malcolm Fraser. The dramatic events of 1975 greatly overshadowed the many reforms Gough Whitlam introduced, including free education, free healthcare, no-fault divorce, a single parent’s pension and legal aid. He also ditched conscription and capital punishment and finalised the end of our involvement in the Vietnam War. And, as the photo indicates, he was the first Australian PM to visit China. Many people our age reflect on the Whitlam years as the only time in their adult lives they actually wanted to vote for someone. Unlike most politicians, Whitlam stated clearly what he wanted to do, won the election and then set out to do it all, and then more.

He abolished conscription and capital punishment and made a point of releasing seven men who had been in jail for refusing to go to Vietnam. And, as chronicled in the outstanding song by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody, he started the process of Aboriginal land rights. Whitlam’s government had the misfortune to be taking the wheel at the time when the economy was going bad; there was inflation and massive unemployment. The global oil crisis did nothing to soothe the people who saw Whitlam as a dangerous maverick.  The song includes the downside so is not quite a hagiography, although I did admire the man for allowing me and my peers the chance of a free tertiary education.

Bob Wilson

Have a listen to the song here and if so inclined, add it to your music collection.

‘Well may we say God save the Queen…’

Three Score and Ten

The author in 1977, reflecting on mortality and the biblical life span, still 41 years away.

We do take a while to get around to recording songs. Bob wrote this for his 70th (in 2018). The subject material is of course realising you have lived your biblical life – three score (sixty) and ten. As we all know people can and do live well into their 90s now and we know a few who made 100 or more. You can listen to the song by following this link to Bandcamp. If you like it, download it for $1.

This is one of those songs which have gone out of style – a man and a woman having a conversation. Think  ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ (Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren) or ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, written by Frank Loesser to sing with his then wife, Lynn Garland.

Three Score and Ten is one of a series of songs we have been recording with Roger Ilott at Restless Music near Stanthorpe. Roger’s been doing some collaborating with his brother Tony who lives in New South Wales. Like us, their forward plans have been thwarted by Covid-19 and restrictions on movement. Nonetheless it is possible to complete recording projects by remote control.

Bob dug out an ancient photo of himself posing with a statue in Paris, circa 1977. As he recalls, “I put the camera on a tripod, set the self-timer then ran like hell”.

By the way this song in no way resembles the folk ballad of the same name about a maritime tragedy, as sung by The Dubliners.

The Pearl – a folk ballad about a tragedy on the Brisbane River

The Pearl, image courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Sometimes it takes years for a song to rise to the surface. I first read about The Pearl when the late journalist, Ken Blanch, wrote an account in the Sunday Mail. I wondered why nobody had written a song about that, but then went on to other things. The Pearl came to grief on a February evening in 1896. The river was in flood and the ferry was swept by the current into the anchor chain of The Lucinda, which was moored in the river. The Pearl capsized and was torn apart by the impact. As the lyrics say, the death tally was never known, but it remains among Australia’s worst ferry accidents. The song is based on newspaper reports of the day and also from talking to historians who have researched the story. The leaps of imagination are all down to me. As usual, the unreliable narrator (me) has the last word, casting himself as a character in an otherwise true story.

Those with an interest in this topic can find accounts of the time at the State Library of Queensland. Historian Paul Seto has also written a book about The Pearl.

Underneath the Story Bridge online

Bob Wilson on location, photo by Giulio Saggin

Well it only took 20 years or so to put my most popular song online. We recorded Underneath the Story Bridge in late 1999 on a seven-song EP which also contained covers, problematic when wanting to post music online. Along came Bandcamp which lets you post ‘singles’ Underneath the Story Bridge uses the device Randy Newman calls ‘the unreliable narrator’, that is, the narrator is a character, not me!

The original EP, Courting the Net, is now out of print although both songs were included on the Australia all Over collection, Macca’s Top 100.

We have plans to include both songs on a collection, Goodwills by Request. There are at least six or more new and unpublished songs which could be on this recording, which is, like Covid-19, a work in progress.

You can find the song here and download it for $1 (or more if you are expecting a tax return).

Bob Wilson, July 1, 2021